Junction: Film Review

This low-budget crime drama is enlivened by strong performances and startlingly nasty narrative twists.

A robbery involving four meth addicts results in surprising revelations in Tony Glazer's dark thriller.

A quietly effective thriller with a few clever narrative tricks up its sleeve, Tony Glazer’s debut feature overcomes its low-budget limitations with clever variations on its familiar genre as well as a taut execution and strong performances from a cast that includes such familiar faces as David Zayas (Dexter), Anthony Rapp (Rent) and Michael O’Keefe (The Great Santini). The tale of four meth addicts who attempt to rob a suburban home only to become embroiled in a far messier situation than they bargained for, Junction should serve as a strong calling card for its tyro writer/director.

The criminal quartet -- Donald (Neal Bledsoe), David (Tom Pelphrey), Spot (Harris Doran) and Kari (Summer Crocket Moore) are clearly jonesing for their next fix from their longtime dealer Tai (Anthony Ruivivar). Unfortunately for them, they’re also suffering from a severe shortage of funds, so they decide to take Tai up on his offer of exchanging drugs for a new flat-screen television for his mom.

Spotting a well-appointed house, the obviously inexperienced crooks break in only to discover a stash of child pornography DVDs as well as numerous photographs of a couple and their young daughter. This outrages the volatile Donald, who viciously attacks the father (Rapp) when he unexpectedly returns home. The wife (Sharon Maguire) and daughter (Danielle Kotch) enter shortly thereafter, and what began as a simple burglary soon devolves into a hostage situation with the arrival of the cops, led by negotiator Lt. Tarelli (Zayas) and his colleague (O’Keefe).

Internal tensions within both groups quickly lead to chaos as the situation becomes ever more violent. But the filmmaker is clearly less interested in the usual cops-and-robbers interactions than in exploring the moral issues being raised. It all ends with a nasty twist that effectively upends our perceptions of what’s been going on.

While Junction, which feels at times like a extended episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, is ultimately too slight to have the intended impact, its tense and pungent atmospherics make it compelling viewing along the way.

Opens: Friday, Nov. 15 (Grand Entertainment Group)

Production: Choice Films, Pate Productions, Movie Ranch Entertainment

Cast: Neal Bledsoe, Harris Doran, Summer Crockett Moore, Tom Pelphrey, Anthony Ruivivar, Sharon Maguire, Danielle Kotch, Anthony Rapp, Michael O’Keefe, David Zayas

Director/screenwriter: Tony Glazer

Producers: Summer Crockett Moore, Roy McDonald, Pat Patterson, Bryan Richard Deehring

Executive producers: Marc Jacobson, Dennis J. Patterson, Denise Tomasetti

Director of photography: Adrian Correia

Editor: Phyllis K. Housen

Production designer: Alan Lampert

Costume designer: Beth Anne Kelleher

Composer: Austin Wintory

Not rated, 91 minutes